Networks find smarter ways to shift more renewables around the grid

transgrid smart valve technology
Transgrid’s new Smart valve installation.

It turns out that it might not have been as hard as some people would like to make out: Every week it appears there is another major step forward in discovering how to shift more renewables around Australia’s main grid.

Today, it’s Trangrid’s turn to announce the completion of $45 million of capital works, and the installation of SmartValve technology from US-based grid enhancing technology company, Smart Wires, that will allow another 170MW of renewable power to flow on the VNI line between Victoria and NSW.

“Transgrid is building the energy superhighways that will benefit millions of Australians and this project is a key example of how we are enabling more efficient sharing of renewable energy between the states,” CEO Brett Redman said in a statement.

“The speed at which the energy transition is accelerating means we must embrace new technology and innovate, and SmartValve is a perfect example of how Transgrid is doing just that.”

It’s not just Transgrid doing this. Battery storage is providing numerous opportunities to maximise the flow of renewables from state to state when needed, sometimes acting as “virtual transmission” by providing a cushion for any network faults.

The Victoria Big Battery is doing just that during the summer peaks on the main link between Victoria and NSW, and the new Waratah “Super Battery” will allow the flow of power from renewable energy zones in the state’s west to the major load centres along the coast to be maximised.

A lot of these battery projects are displacing the need for grid upgrades, but they continue anyway. Transgrid recently upgraded the links between NSW and Queensland, allowing 460MW more power to be transferred into Queensland and 190MW more into NSW and the ACT when needed.

Transgrid's transformer tanks.
Transgrid’s transformer tanks.

It is also building much of the new $2.3 billion link between South Australia and NSW, and earlier this week, it took delivery at the Port of Kembla of the first of 118 tonne transformers tanks that will also form part of huge synchronous condensers that will support the growth of renewables. (See picture above).

The SmartValve is interesting. Transgrid is the first in Australia to install the equipment and says it detects congestion on the transmission network and redirects power off overloaded lines onto transmission lines with spare capacity.

That enables substations to be upgraded using existing infrastructure. Nine SmartValve units have been installed at Transgrid’s Stockdill substation in the ACT to unlock 120MW of additional energy, while six units at Yass substation will provide another 50MW.

“By using power flow controller technology we can unlock additional energy without needing to build new lines or upgrade existing transmission lines, which minimises environmental and community impact,” Redman said.


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